Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Matins At Trinity In The ‘Cove

Well, the missus and I are back from visiting her family down in the Copperas Cove, Harker Heights, and Killeen area down in Texas. I thought I’d share my Sunday experience with y’all.

We attended Trinity Lutheran Church in ‘Cove on Sunday. Trinity is our go-to congregation when we are in the central Texas area. Whoever said Germans are incapable of being friendly has never visited this parish. Good grief these people are nice! What a welcoming group that breaks from the stereotypical mold of Lutherans being all stoic and unfriendly.

Our order of service was the office of Matins which is used frequently when the Eucharist is not offered in my home congregation (In my congregation the Lord’s Supper is offered every Sunday alternating between our 8:30 and 11:00 services. When there is a fifth Sunday then Holy Communion is celebrated at both services.) We followed the order of Matins right out of the Lutheran Service Book with no changes to accommodate any local traditions. My missus even commented that it’s good to visit a congregation without having to look around to figure out what’s going on.

The hymns were solid and tied to our pericope (for my newer readers a pericope is a Scripture reading. We get the word from the Greek word περικοπή, meaning "a cutting-out"). We even sang “Sweet Flowerets of the Martyr Band” a great old hymn that didn’t make it into our new hymnal so the text had to be printed out in the bulletin. I only wish that the music was included so I could follow along a bit easier. By the forth stanza I was able to sing along with the congregation with a bit of confidence but the first few verses were rough.

Pastor Bernie Schey gave a pretty good sermon that reviewed Herod’s slaughter of the innocents in the light of Rachel’s weeping as the Church’s weeping on this side of eternity. God’s faithfulness in spite of his sinful rebelling creatures’ attempts to thwart His plan of salvation was covered as well.

So let’s review; solid hymns…check. An order of service that wasn’t penned two nights before so as to appear relevant and hip with seekers or to be emotive for the sake of being emotive…check. Solid gospel preaching…check. What more could I ask for?

Finally; the attendance was a bit little light at Trinity because most of Fort Hood’s two divisions have been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. Average attendance runs about a hundred people on a Sunday so it’s clear that the war is really hitting them hard. If my congregation lost so many, for what ever reason, I’m not certain we could even afford to pay our bills. Let’s keep our brothers and sisters in those faithful congregations who serve military installations and especially Trinity Lutheran Church in our prayers.

If you ever are in the central Texas area give Trinity Lutheran Church in Copperas Cove a try. If you do, you’ll know that you singing and praying with angels and archangels and all the company of Heaven as the very marks that define Christ’s Church are present. What more could any of us ask for?

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Today’s Quote Of The Day

I actually found today’s quote of the day yesterday over at Father Hollywood’s blog but I didn’t have time to post it because of my traveling back to the Haut South. The quote of the day comes from the Rev. Aaron Koch's blog, "The Staff of Aaron", in his post Living Nativity:

"I recall even one Lutheran pastor who would kneel before a plastic Jesus as part of a school Christmas program, but who thought it wrong to genuflect at the altar during the consecration!"

Oh, heck yeah!

I can not begin to recount how many of my evangelical friends question whether my faith is genuine based on the fact that I cross myself before prayer or bow my head whenever the Gloria Patri is sung during the Divine Service.

For my newer readers, the Gloria Patri is a short doxological hymn of praise to God that is sung during various points of our worship service;

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be. Amen.

Thank you Pastor Beane for bringing Pr. Koch's fine quote to our attention, it kept me going all the way home yesterday.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Pope Decries Selfishness, Me Too!

According to the AP the pope has decried selfishness. From the first paragraph of the story;

Pope Benedict XVI warned in his Christmas message Thursday that the world was headed toward ruin if selfishness prevails over solidarity during tough economic times for rich and poor nations.

I agree with the pope that selfishness is appalling. During this time of the year that we focus on the Christ child who will save all who would believe through his substitutionary atonement on the cursed tree, we should put aside our selfishness and try become more Christ like.

I can think of no better way for the bishop of Rome to set the very best of examples than to finally, once and for all, empty purgatory and limbo of all the souls that he says reside there.

It is time to end the selfishness of the Holy See itself and let those poor souls be with their Lord. Since the pope has reserved to himself alone the power to remit the entire satisfaction of those ensnared just short of heaven, what better way demonstrate selflessness over selfishness this Christmas season.

Should Pope Benedict take this bold step I will pledge to stop photoshopping his picture into Emperor Palpatine photos. See, it’s a bargain all the way around.

Oh, one more thing; I’m not the first to make this humble request. See Thesis 82 and Smalcald Articles III, Of the False Repentance of the Papists penned by Dr. Luther.

Christmas Eve Confessions

My missus and I visited her old congregation for Christmas Eve services. This was the congregation that she attended for years before she followed me to the Haut South many, many moons ago. As is the case every time we return to Texas, we join her family on the eve of our celebration of the birth of Jesus.

After a performance by a pretty decent bell choir and soloists we sang O Little Town Of Bethlehem for the opening hymn. Then we began what was called a confessional dialogue. I’d never heard of a confessional dialogue before and thought I’d share this with y’all;

Confessional Dialogue from Psalm 18

L How I love you, Lord! You are my defender.

C (softly) O Lord, you are my Light. My God dispels my darkness.

L the Lord is my Savior; he is my strong Fortress. My God is my Protection; I am safe with him.

C (louder) O Lord, you are my Light. My God dispels my darkness.

L He protects me like a shield; he defends me and keeps me safe.

C (louder) O Lord, you are my Light. My God dispels my darkness.

L I call to the Lord, who is worthy to be praised and he saves me from my enemies.

C (louder) O Lord, you are my Light. My God dispels my darkness.

L Death pulled its ropes tight around me; and the grave set its trap for me.

C (whisper) O Lord, you are my Light. My God dispels my darkness.

L In my trouble I called to the Lord, I called to my God for help.

C (louder) O Lord, you are my Light. My God dispels my darkness.

L In his temple he heard my voice, my cry for help reached his ears.

C (shout) O Lord, you are my Light. My God dispels my darkness.

L The people who walked in darkness have seen a great Light; those who dwelt in the land of deep darkness, on them the Light has shined.

C For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

The softly, louder, whisper, shout directions were in the bulletin and also explained by the pastor. He made it very clear that we were supposed to shout that last line as it was to appear to be “building to a crescendo.”

After that we continued with following:

L this is the message we have heard from him and proclaimed to you: That God is Light and in him there is no darkness at all.

C If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not live according to the truth.

L But if we walk in the Light, as he is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another,

C and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.

I just thought I would share…

Thursday, December 25, 2008

My Favorite Christmas Hymn

Of all of the good Christmas hymns out there “Of the Father’s love begotten” is by far my favorite.

Good hymnody is a sung confession of faith. What I love about this particular hymn is that it so beautifully repeats back to God how He has chosen to deal with his sinful and rebellious creation as revealed to us in His Holy Word. Instead of the wrath that we have earned with every thought word and deed, He has graciously chosen to send His Son, Jesus, God incarnate and yet wearing human flesh, to redeem a fallen world.

How comforting it is that the Savior first promised after man rebelled and foretold by all of the prophets of the Old Testament shows up as a baby in a manger. How comforting it is that He, born of the blessed virgin, would enter our world for the purpose of our salvation.

What a joy it is to sing this wonderful hymn on a Christmas morn. Merry Christmas everyone!

Of the Father’s love begotten,
Ere the worlds began to be,
He is Alpha and Omega,
He the source, the ending He,
Of the things that are, that have been,
And that future years shall see,
Evermore and evermore!

At His Word the worlds were framèd;
He commanded; it was done:
Heaven and earth and depths of ocean
In their threefold order one;
All that grows beneath the shining
Of the moon and burning sun,
Evermore and evermore!

He is found in human fashion,
Death and sorrow here to know,
That the race of Adam’s children
Doomed by law to endless woe,
May not henceforth die and perish
In the dreadful gulf below,
Evermore and evermore!

O that birth forever blessèd,
When the virgin, full of grace,
By the Holy Ghost conceiving,
Bare the Savior of our race;
And the Babe, the world’s Redeemer,
First revealed His sacred face,
evermore and evermore!

O ye heights of heaven adore Him;
Angel hosts, His praises sing;
Powers, dominions, bow before Him,
and extol our God and King!
Let no tongue on earth be silent,
Every voice in concert sing,
Evermore and evermore!

This is He Whom seers in old time
Chanted of with one accord;
Whom the voices of the prophets
Promised in their faithful word;
Now He shines, the long expected,
Let creation praise its Lord,
Evermore and evermore!

Righteous judge of souls departed,
Righteous King of them that live,
On the Father’s throne exalted
None in might with Thee may strive;
Who at last in vengeance coming
Sinners from Thy face shalt drive,
Evermore and evermore!

Thee let old men, thee let young men,
Thee let boys in chorus sing;
Matrons, virgins, little maidens,
With glad voices answering:
Let their guileless songs re-echo,
And the heart its music bring,
Evermore and evermore!

Christ, to Thee with God the Father,
And, O Holy Ghost, to Thee,
Hymn and chant with high thanksgiving,
And unwearied praises be:
Honor, glory, and dominion,
And eternal victory,
Evermore and evermore!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

O come, O come, Emmanuel

O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

Luke 2:8-20;

Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. 10 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:

“ Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”

So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Remember, Coveting Is A Bad Thing…

Every now and then, geeks like me realize that there are toys out there that we want, need and must have even if we don’t know what they are. Sometimes, it never dawns on us that we might need said toy until we see it for the first time. Then the coveting begins.

Under the “we only make this for sci-fi geeks because everyone else would think it’s just sad” heading comes the most awesomeness ever molded into a plastic figure; James T. Kirk yelling "Khaaaaaaaaaaaaan" in The Wrath Of Khan" action figure. See what I mean, you didn’t even know that you needed it until you saw the picture.

Now, if you’re like me and are watching your pennies you’ll go down to the blood bank and sell about seven quarts to pay for that bad boy. Barring that, I’d recommend that you go to the bank right now and take out a home equity loan to make sure you’re the first one to show yours off at next month’s BiMonSciFiCon meeting held at the City Hotel and Bistro (that’s the one that used to be a Ramada until they lost their franchise license) over by the municipal airport.

I just thought all of you should know…

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Yesterday’s Quote Of The Day

"How long have we been here, five hours tops? So, you two are already talking theology. Why am I not surprised? "

The quote of the day yesterday comes from my missus after getting up from a nap only to discover that her mom and her husband have already started to discuss the vexing theological issues of the day.

Yep, Mom-in-law is a hoot.

Lutherans Do That?

I was at a Christmas party before I left for Texas and as is the norm I was asked to say grace before we began our meal. Oh wait, I’m gonna need to give y’all a bit of background.

My nickname at this former coworker’s home is “Father Frank.” He’s called me this for quite a while and really I don’t mind, after all, I’ve been called worse.

It was a pretty mixed crowd theologically with a few evangelicals and nondenominational types but for the most part the crowd was Roman Catholic. The missus and I are always happy to represent the Lutherans.

Anyhoo, I was asked once again to say grace and said “sure why not!” So, I crossed myself and said the prayer from the Small Catechism.

The eyes of all look to You, O Lord; and You give them their food at the proper time; You open Your hand, and satisfy the desire of every living thing.

Lord God, Heavenly Father, bless us and these Thy gifts, which we take from Thy bountiful goodness, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

What drew the biggest reaction was the fact that a Lutheran crossed himself! Wow, you’d think in a room of Romans that they would be used to that. Apparently not.

Even my former coworker’s wife looked a bit puzzled and asked; “Lutherans Do That? Lutherans know how to do that?”

Yes we do know how to do that. We cross ourselves in remembrance of our Baptism where the Lord through the simple element of water and the word of God marks us as heirs of eternal life.

What I thought was hilarious about the incident was that both evangelicals and Romans got a bit uneasy. Evangelicals think that such a practice looks too Roman and that any ritual not prescribed in the Bible must be avoided. I think the Romans may have gotten a little nervous with not being the only catholics in the room.

I’m cool with the latter.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Excuse Me, I’m A What?

I’ve been getting ready the last few days for my vacation in Texas to see the in-laws. Cool people those in-laws, and I can’t to see ‘em! The missus and I make that trip every four years down to Killeen, Texas and this is the year. Yeah!

So, one of the things I’ve been doing is getting on the phone and doing a bunch of scheduling to make sure that the next two weeks go as smoothly as possible and that we can see and do everything that we’d like.

Here’s how one conversation went down:

Yeah, it’s going to be so nice to have you here, you’re like… a peacemaker.

I’m a WHAT?

You know, a peacemaker to everybody in the family

No, no I’m not.

Yeah, you are, you’re like a calming influence.

Uh, no I’m not. If anything… I’m the angel of death or at least war incarnate!

No you’re not.

Have I not ever been your house?

…yeah, but we love you anyways.

Hmm. I guess I’ve been called worse; someone did accuse me of being an antinomian once.

Friday, December 19, 2008

My District’s Ablaze! Christmas Card

Well, I got my district Christmas “card” yesterday in the mail. It was a nicely done 8.5 X 11 glossy sheet that was decorated to look like a Christmas tree quilt with all the organization’s employee’s photos stacked inside the tree. Next to the tree was the message:

We celebrate Jesus who sets our lives ablaze with his grace, mercy, and peace.

Along the bottom of the flyer were these words;

May your Christmas remembrances overflow with love for Jesus, who came as a child, to be our Savior. The Staff

Are you thinking what I’m thinking? Yeah, that’s what I thought too. I don’t think that any communication comes out of a district or synod office without incorporating the word ablaze into the message. Nope, it’s just not possible.

That being said, and to be fair, what I just received was a hell of a lot better than the card from two years ago. That card rewrote a verse of Scripture to include the word ablaze so that Luke’s account of the angels appearing to the shepherds read:
The heavens are ablaze as a great company of the heavenly host appear praising God and saying. “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to all”

After reading that abomination I actually sent the district a short email asking nicely what translation they were using. I didn’t really expect a reply and the good folks at the district offices didn’t disappoint me whatsoever.

It’s times like this that I remember the words not of one of the patristic church fathers, or of a reformation era theologian but of a contemporary Anglican layman who said:
Some men aren't looking for anything logical. They can't be bought, bullied, reasoned or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world burn.

Sir Alfred Pennyworth

Yep, smart cookie that Pennyworth. He knows his Ablaze! suit types well.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Why Would You Sing That Hymn?

One more post on why I love the hymnody of Advent.

One of the reasons I love the hymnody of Advent is that hymns are so confessional. What do I mean when I say this? A confession of faith in hymnody is nothing more than repeating back, in a musical setting, the Gospel which God has given us in Scripture.

Our Gospel reading for Sunday was read from the first chapter of Saint John’s Gospel beginning with the sixth verse;

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.
Now this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.” And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” And he answered, “No.” Then they said to him, “Who are you, that we may give an answer to those who sent us? What do you say about yourself?”
He said: “I am‘ The voice of one crying in the wilderness:“ Make straight the way of the LORD,”’ as the prophet Isaiah said.”
Now those who were sent were from the Pharisees. And they asked him, saying, “Why then do you baptize if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?” John answered them, saying, “I baptize with water, but there stands One among you whom you do not know. It is He who, coming after me, is preferred before me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose.”
These things were done in Bethabara beyond the Jordan, where John was baptizing.

After our Gospel reading we sang the Latin hymn Hark! A Thrilling Voice Is Sounding; found on page 345 in the Lutheran Service Book;

Hark! A thrilling voice is sounding!"
Christ is near," we hear it say."
Cast away the works of darkness,
All you children of the day!"

Startled at the solemn warning,
Let the earthbound soul arise;
Christ, its sun, all sloth dispelling,
Shines upon the morning skies.

See, the Lamb, so long expected,
Comes with pardon down from heav'n.
Let us haste, with tears of sorrow,
One and all, to be forgiv'n.

So, when next he comes in glory
And the world is wrapped in fear,
He will shield us with his mercy
And with words of love draw near.

Honor, glory, might, dominion
To the Father and the Son
With the everliving Spirit
While eternal ages run!

As John prepares Israel for the coming (which is what Advent means, a coming) of the Messiah first promised back in the third chapter of Genesis we prepare for Christ’s return, the parousia or second advent. The hymn could have certainly been sung before the first advent and it indeed a joy to sing it before the second. As John announced the coming of Jesus to all who would hear so do we now in our sung confession with this great Advent hymn.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

What Kind Of Hymns Are You Singing?

Next to the Lent, the season of the church year that I love the most is Advent. What a good time of year in our liturgical calendar for both the Scripture readings as well as the hymnody.

The word Advent comes from an old Latin word adventus which means coming. As we look at the coming of the Babe of Bethlehem we also take this time in our church’s liturgical year to look forward to the second coming of the Lamb of God who has already destroyed sin, death, and the devil at the cross.

It may seem like an odd time to talk about end times and such but when you look closely at Scripture, Jesus is always talking about the end times. At Advent we also take this time to look ahead to the promised banquet that our Lord has prepared for us in heaven.

During Advent it is not uncommon for the saints on this side of eternity, to joyfully sing hymns that look to that parousia, the second coming of Christ While we wait for that final trumpet to sound we can sing confidently that the victory is surely won on the cross at Calvary. As Israel looked to the coming messiah we sing of His triumphant return in our hymns. It may seem like an odd thing to a culture so stuck on counting down shopping days but there is indeed comfort for Christ’s Bridegroom, his Church to sing these wonderful hymns.

Our opening hymn for the third Sunday in Advent was Rejoice, Rejoice Believers by Laurentius Laurenti (1660-1772) found on page 515 in the Lutheran Service Book. Enjoy;

Rejoice, rejoice, believers, and let your lights appear.
The evening is advancing, and darker night is near.
The Bridegroom is arising, and soon He drawing nigh.
Up, pray, and watch, and wrestle: At midnight comes the cry.

The watchers on the mountain proclaim the Bridegroom near.
Go meet Him as He cometh, with alleluias clear.
The marriage feast is waiting, the gates wide open stand;
Arise, O heirs of glory, the Bridegroom is at hand.

The saints, who here in patience your cross and sufferings bore,

Shall live and reign forever, when sorrow is no more.
Around the throne of glory the Lamb ye shall behold;
In triumph cast before Him your diadems of gold!

Our hope and expectation, O Jesus, now appear!

Arise, Thou Sun so longed for, over this benighted sphere!
With hearts and hands uplifted, we plead, O Lord, to see
The day of earth’s redemption that brings us unto Thee.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Issues, Etc. Gains My Congregation’s Support

Yesterday my congregation voted to include Issues, Etc. as part of our budget. As the kids like to say; w00t! Believe it or not, it wasn’t even me that made the recommendation that we support my favorite radio program. Who cares who proposed it as long as it got done!

While I’m on the subject, I might as well address a somewhat angry email that I received back before the show was resurrected on Pirate Christian Radio. About a month after the host, producer, and show were terminated I received this little gem:

Honestly carrying on about a radio show like you are, I just don’t see the happy, attacking someone of a different path, I just don’t see the happy, hating Canadians, I just don’t see the happy, attacking the radio station for changing it’s programming and not consulting you, tell me where is the happy you speak of, all I see is an angry zealot.

Nobody, especially me, was upset because we weren’t consulted. We were upset because the reasons kept changing and none of them matched up with the facts. If the people who made the decision to cancel the program had went through proper channels so that everything was above board and the reasons transparent there would be no reason to be upset. But that didn’t happen and as more and more official statements were released, more and more questions about timelines and who said what popped up. It didn't add up and if you followed a little closer you might have picked up on that.

You see, people like me like to play by the rules. The people that were issuing statements, that justified the cancellation, didn’t follow the rules and couldn’t come up with a story explaining what happened that matched up with the very facts that they themselves were putting out there. If there was transparency and honesty there would be no reason for anybody to get ill about it.

Was I upset when the program was cancelled? You bet! The reason I was upset was that there was no other program that did what it did. As an apologetics resource it was the cats meow. It taught in a manner that never talked down to the listeners. It used the issues of the day as a springboard to catechize listeners of all denominations and not just Lutherans. Why wouldn’t we be upset if a show like that was cancelled unjustly? If you think that makes me or anybody an angry zealot; you’re not just a few fries short of a happy meal, you’re missing the fries.

Oh, one more thing; I do like Canadians and you just don’t get the joke. Naturally I’m still holding out hope that they issue an apology for both Anne Murray and Bryan Adams. I love my Canadians brothers and sisters but they still need to take responsibility for what they have done to not only our country but the entire world. If you can't see that, you just ain’t right (or as the kids in my Sunday school class would say, you’re wack)

So in conclusion, soon you’ll be hearing my congregation listed as a supporter of my favorite Christ centered, cross focused radio program: Issues, Etc. Oh yeah!

Crucifix Banned From Chapel to Avoid Offending Peaceful Mohammadian Inmates

A British prison has decided not to include a crucifix in the décor of its new chapel for fear of offending Mohammadian inmates. The Daily Mail has said that "plans to include the traditional Christian crucifix were erased from the chapel’s blueprints on the advice of a Muslim imam".

Yep, two thousand years later and the cross is still offensive. Whodathunk it? Who knows what they’ll do next so as to not offend their Mohammadian population. I'd recommend allowing the Mohammadian to set up their own court system under sharia law but they already did that back in September.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

A Perfect Saturday Morning for Teaching Scripture

Oh what a perfect Saturday morning. The sun is shining, the air is cold and crisp just like I like it and my missus is nowhere around. Huh? Why would my missus not being here make for a perfect morning you ask? Well, because I had the joy of receiving visitors.

See if this sounds familiar; you’re sitting on the couch and all of a sudden the doorbell rings. You open the door and find two people on your stoop holding what looks like pamphlets and their trusty translation of the New Testaments. Oh yeah, I had me some Jehovah witnesses stop by.

What was odd with these two was that they were a mother and son team with the boy being about nine or ten. Still, an opportunity to teach as my missus is away with the alter guild decorating our tree at church. For what it’s worth, I’ve never seen the JW’s send only one adult and after today I don’t think that happen on my street again.

The women asked me a couple of questions about if I thought Jesus was setting the example we should live. I answered all of her very basic questions and she seemed genuinely pleased with my answers. Then she made the comment that people don’t often read their Bibles or that they interpret the Scriptures to mean something that they don’t. Boy howdy, that was an opening that you could fly a Boeing 747 through with room to spare!

“I know what you mean” I said. “Did you know that there are some people that actually think that Jesus never said He was God?”

“He did say He was the son of God” she replied still smiling.

“Not only did he make the claim that He was the Son of God, but every time me says “I Am” He is saying He is the same God that spoke those words to Moses from the burning bush, He is saying He is God!”

“Hmm, really…”

“Absolutely, come on in for a second and I’ll show you my New Testament in it’s original language; Greek and we can break out my lexicon if we run into any trouble”

As me moved inside I brought out my books and sat down in the living room. While the boy played cautiously with the cat we looked at words ego eimi (if I could figure out how to turn the Greek font on, believe me I would) that Jesus uses throughout John’s gospel. I let her use her translation that butchers the opening of John’s gospel as she just wouldn’t put it down and I used my New King James Version for our impromptu study.

I briefly walked her through the I Am (ego eimi) statements and explained that the reason the crowds are picking up stones to kill Jesus is that they understood that he was making the claim that He was the same God that revealed Himself in the Old Testament. When I was done, she was smiling but barely.

I told her that I could see she was struggling with this and challenged her to show me where the crowds picked up stoned to kill Him when He said He was a son of God. She couldn’t find any passages in her Bible and told me that she really had to be going. She did say that she was very interested in learning more about these Greek words ego eimi and she would look them up in her encyclopedia at home. Heh.

Before she left I told her that I’d be happy to talk to her some more and would be happy to teach all about the I Am statements. For some reason or another, she didn’t commit to any class taught by me. I then told her that when she got home she should get out a good translation that hasn’t screwed with the original text and read that forth gospel so that she may understand it a little better. Her only response was to thank me and she hoped I enjoyed the rest of my day.

So as quick as she and her son came, off they went down the street to the next house. At the end of the day I think I pulled out my books and notes too quickly. I should have taken it a little slower but since I believed that she thought that I was agreeing with her; I really didn’t feel I had any other choice. I just couldn’t let her go too far in the direction she was clearly taught without addressing the heresies of the Jehovah Witnesses’.

Oh well, maybe next month.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Mollie Follows Up And Takes The MSM To School

Mollie Zeigler Hemmingway follows up on her critique of the Newsweek cover story on gay marriage by Lisa Miller over at Get Religion in yesterday’s post titled “What’s the standard?”

Among other things in this post she take on the advocacy on the part of Newsweek editor Jon Meacham. What a great read on the problems journalistic agendas bring and how a professional reporters should be doing their jobs.

Once again, the awesomeness that is Mollie takes ‘em on and takes ‘em to school.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Great Post By Mollie Over At Get Religion

The awesomeness that is Mollie Zeigler Hemmingway over at Get Religion has a great piece here on Newsweek’s cover story on gay marriage by senior editor Lisa Miller. Mollie takes Miller out to the proverbial woodshed for her selective and sloppy exegeting of Scripture that qualifies as journalistic malfeasance. What a great read!

I was out of town all last week so I had plenty of time to play on the web. One of the things that have really struck me was the lack of coverage of the opposition to Prop 8 out in California that passed on Election Day. I believe that if the opposition was shown making the speeches that I saw last week while stuck in a hotel room, the amendment would have passed with a majority that

If the rage and venom that was directed, for the most part, at the Mormons would have been directed at any other group, excluding Christians of course, there would have been charges of hate speech. If Christian groups would have spewed half of the vitriol as the opposition, there would have been lawsuits and fire bombings instead of protests outside of churches and vandalism.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

“You’re A Bad Influence”

Here’s how the conversation went down:

I don’t like this hymn, it doesn’t even mention Christ.

Yeah it does (with me pointing to the sixth verse), He’s right there.

No… He’s not, that’s Christ’s followers not Christ.

It’s talking about the Christ’s Church, it’s a decent hymn.

Well, it’s not going to be one of my favorites.


It’s all your fault, now I look for Christ in the hymns as well as the sermons. You’re a bad influence.

That was my missus telling me that she’s judging her hymnody using the same criteria that she uses to judge whether or not a sermon is any good. In a nutshell, she was using the Wilken Diagnostic. What’s that you ask? The Wilken Diagnostic is a very simple way of evaluating sermons that is used by Pastor Todd Wilken; the host for my favorite radio program Issues, Etc:

1. How often is Jesus mentioned?
2. Is Jesus the subject of the verbs? Is Jesus the one who acts, or are you?
3. What are the verbs? What has Jesus done and what is He doing?

It seems that my missus is now using that same standard to evaluate all things in church, even hymnody. Oh yeah!

Now to be fair, the reformation era hymn wasn’t a bad one, it did speak of Christ’s triumphant church. It was the kind of hymn that you would expect to sing if the New Testament reading was from the book of Revelation, you know, with all the left behindy people are all realizing that they are…left behind looking up at the new Jerusalem wondering “What… the … deuce?”. There’s nothing wrong with a triumphant church hymn even if this one might not be the strongest one out there. It really wasn’t a bad hymn, just not the best one.

What I just find so very, very cool is that my missus is becoming quite the theologian in her own right. She who claims that she is no theologian at all has more than once stepped up spontaneously and given a defense of the one true faith. Strong in the faith this one is and I couldn’t be more proud of her.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Planned Parenthood Offering Gift Certificates

Just in time for Christmas, some Planned Parenthood facilities in Indiana and Illinois are offering gift certificates for their services.

Not sure what to give that favorite sister, daughter, or significant other? Why not lift their spirits with gift of an abortion?

Nothing says Merry Christmas like a Planned Parenthood gift certificate.

From the FOXNews story;

Planned Parenthood said the stocking-stuffers — that range in value from $25 to $100 and can be ordered online — are redeemable for health services at clinics throughout the two states and can go to any service offered. "We decided not to put restrictions on the gift certificates, so it’s for whatever people feel they need the services for most," Struben-Hall said.

Read the whole story here.

Update: Aaron D. Wolf does a much better job than me of dealing with this repulsive story over here at Chronicles. Thanks to Herr Benjamin Ulledalen for bringing the article to my attention!

Monday, December 01, 2008

Denmark’s Successful Eugenics Program Reduces Down's Syndrome Births By Half

According to the British Medical Journal, Denmark’s pre-natal screening program has halved the number of babies with Down's Syndrome. The new national screening ”also resulted in a sharp decline in the number of chorionic villus samplings and amniocenteses carried out, even before full implementation of the policy.”

So what were the by the numbers results? Read the published results from the study;

The number of infants born with Down’s syndrome decreased from 55-65 per year during 2000-4 to 31 in 2005 and 32 in 2006. The total number of chorionic villus samplings and amniocenteses carried out decreased from 7524 in 2000 to 3510 in 2006. The detection rate in the screened population in 2005 was 86% and in 2006 was 93%.

The number of parents that had to bear the burden of unwanted children was halved! No longer will the parents have to be concerned with a child who will need lifelong care and supervision, which of course would be a drain on family (and the state).

That’s what I call a successful program. By the way, just so we're all on the same page here, let’s all call a thing what it is; the name for this is eugenics. And just in case you missed it, all this reported success, this is before the full implementation of what will be a nation program. This is sickening and unholy!

Read more from the full study here.